Matchweek 7 Preview

Eric Toth & TJ Lovenduski

Everton v. Crystal Palace

After flying out of the gates, Everton fell to Bournemouth last week. They’ll be looking to get back to winning ways at home against a Palace side that’s scored 9 in their last 3. Everton clearly has the better team on paper, but have yet to be tested. Palace could offer that test, given their run of form as of late.

Matchup to Watch: Romelu Lukaku v. Dann and Tomkins

In order to extend their winning streak to four, Palace is going to need Scott Dann and James Tomkins to nullify Everton’s striker Romelu Lukaku. Palace have yet to record a clean sheet this season and with the firepower on offer from the Merseyside club, it would be a safe bet that it won’t happen this week. If Dann and Tomkins can keep Lukaku’s impact on the game to a minimum, then they have a chance of stealing a point, maybe even all three.

Eric: Everton 2-2 Palace

Everton struggled last week, while it looks like Benteke is fitting in nicely with the pace and directness offered by the Palace wingers. This one could be a bit of a surprise result as I think Palace will manage to take a point home from Goodison Park.

TJ: Everton 3-1 Palace

I think Everton will regain their form and show their stellar offense. They have a scary front when things are clicking. Palace has played well and have some offensive threats of their own, but I see Everton winning this one comfortably.

Swansea v. Liverpool

Swansea haven’t found much joy this season after losing two of their key men in the summer. They’ve found a bit of a bright light in Leroy Fer, but his goals seemed to have dried up in the last few weeks. The goals just keep on coming for Liverpool, though. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but Mane, Firmino and Coutinho form one of the most clincal attacks in the league, add in an in-form Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge and they’ll nearly impossible to stop. After scoring 5 against Hull, they’ll be looking to keep hitting the back of the net in Wales this Saturday.

Matchup to Watch: Fernando Llorente v. Lovren and Matip

Llorente managed to get off the mark for Swansea against Manchester City and I expect his size and movement to cause problems for the Liverpool defense. Llorente is a big striker who has scored goals wherever he has gone, if he can get the service from Sigurdsson and Fer, he could have a big game against a disappointing Liverpool back four. Matip and Lovren are still getting familiar with each other, but their communication will have to be on point if they are going to stop Llorente from having a big day.

Eric: Swans 1-3 Liverpool

Liverpool just have too much going forward for this mediocore Swansea defense. However, Liverpool still haven’t shown me enough defensively, I think Llorente will bag his second for Swansea, but it won’t be enough.

TJ: Swans 0-2 Liverpool

While Liverpool hasn’t put it together defensively, I think they’ll be able to do enough to keep a clean sheet this week. Swansea shouldn’t be too much of a test.

Hull City v. Chelsea

Conte has his work cut out for him after a poor showing against Arsenal last week. Chelsea looked helpless as they watched the Gunners bang in 3 goals. I’m sure the fiery Italian manager will have the Chelsea side amped up and ready to redeem themselves this weekend against newly promoted side, Hull City. Hull started well, but only tallied one point from their last four matches. With Chelsea coming off the back of an embarrassing loss, they could be in for yet another big defeat.

Matchup to Watch: Diego Costa v. Himself

There’s no doubt that Diego Costa is one of the best strikers in world football, but his toughest opponent is often himself. Costa is easily wound up and get himself into trouble. He’s usually sly with his digs at his opponents, but if they get under his skin, he can easilly make a silly mistake and be sent off. The Spanish striker will have to keep his cool against Hull this weekend and if he manages to do that, he could grab himself a couple of goals.

Eric: Hull 0-2 Chelsea

The Tigers have lost their last two games by a collective score of 9-2 and I think Chelsea can and will add to that.

TJ: Hull 0-3 Chelsea

Chelsea is just too good for Hull.

Sunderland v. West Bromwich Albion

Same old story for these two. A struggling Sunderland hosts a resolute West Brom. Jermaine Defoe will have to carry the load if Sunderland hope to get their first win of the season against WBA. The tough Pulis defense will not give anything away easily, especially against a Sunderland side that has failed to create many chances. West Brom just managed to pull out a draw in the 91st minute last weekend against Stoke City.

Matchup to Watch: Nacer Chadli v. Jan Kirchoff

As important as Defoe is to their attack, Jan Kirchoff is equally important to the Black Cats defense. Kirchoff made himself undroppable as soon as he arrived at the Stadium of Light from Bayern Munich. The big German offers a cushion in front of the defense that was desperately needed. Kirchoff will have to cut out passes and keep Nacer Chadli from getting into the game to give his team a chance.

Eric: Sunderland 1-1 West Brom

Defoe will score a half-chance and Chadli will create something out of nothing in what will likely be a bore at the Stadium of Light.

TJ: Sunderland 1-1 West Brom

As Eric predicts this game will probably be boring. Both sides will score, but it will still lack excitement.

Watford v. Bournemouth

Bournemouth are coming off of a great victory against a previously unbeaten Everton team. The Cherries managed to keep Everton off the scoresheet, an impressive feat in itself and a fantastic strike from Stanislas propelled them to a 1-0 win. Watford will be looking to continue their good start offensively and try to record their first clean sheet of the season. The defense of Watford will be tested against Callum Wilson, Jordan Ibe and Josh King with Jack Wilshere creating behind them.

Matchup to Watch: Harry Arter v. Watford’s Attack

Harry Arter has been the unsung hero at Bournemouth for the past two seasons and he’ll have an important role to play as the club travel to Watford. Arter will be tasked with keeping the fierce Watford attack at bay. Troy Deeny, Odion Ighalo, Roberto Pereyra and Etienne Capoue have all been playing exceptionally well for Watford. The four will have to get past Harry Arter, however, if they plan to put the Bournemouth centerbacks under any duress this weekend, which is not an easy task. The Bournemouth man has been great at breaking up play this season and gives the Bournemouth defense some added protection from midfield.

Eric: Watford 1-1 Bournemouth

After an impressive win against Everton, I believe Bournemouth will keep up their form and hold Watford to a 1-1 draw.

TJ: Watford 2-1 Bournemouth

Bournemouth will play well, but I don’t think they’ll be able to fully contain Watford’s attack.

West Ham v. Middlesbrough

West Ham has continued to struggle this season. Last week they suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Southampton. And a lot of that has to do with West Ham’s inability to defend. At the beginning of the season I would have never considered that Middlesbrough would be able to beat West Ham, but with how West Ham has been playing I’d consider it a possibility.

Matchup to Watch: West Ham v. Themselves

There is still time for West Ham to recover this season. But they’re going to need to start soon. They need to identify what’s happening and fix it. It’s themselves that are holding them back. If they do their part, they can certainly get some wins.

Eric: West Ham 1-0 Boro

West Ham has too many talented players to continue to play as poorly as they have been. They should be able to defeat ‘Boro this weekend.

TJ: West 1-1 Boro

West Ham will hold a lead for most of the match, but will once again show defensive issues when Middlesbrough gets a late equalizer.

Manchester United v. Stoke City

Stoke City has struggled to do much of anything this season. I’m expecting more of the same against a United side that looked much stronger last game. Mourinho finally elected to leave Rooney on the bench and they looked much better. Rooney is not a midfielder and he’s not better than Ibrahimovic. If they continue to leave Rooney on the sidelines they should win comfortably.

Matchup to Watch: Mourinho v. Rooney

This comes down to Mourinho haven’t the guts to truly relegate Wayne Rooney to the bench. It’s clear that United is a much better side without Rooney on the field. But he’s also been such a staple for the Red Devils that it could be difficult to keep him out permanently. We’ll have to see what Mourinho decides to do this weekend.

Eric: Man U 3-0 Stoke

Stoke have been dire so far and after dropping Rooney, United may have found the formula for success. The Manchester side will take this one easily.

TJ: Man U 3-0 Stoke

The way Stoke has been playing, they don’t stand a chance. United could start Rooney and still get a win.

Tottenham v. Manchester City

City has simply been on another level since the arrival of Pep. They’ve lost Kevin de Bruyne for the next few weeks, but still have the strongest squad in the league. Tottenham definitely has a formidable side though. They may be able to surprise Manchester City, but it’ll be more difficult without star striker, Harry Kane.

Matchup to Watch: Sergio Aguero v. Spurs Centerbacks

Aguero is one of the best strikers in the EPL, so Tottenham will have their hands full. Fortunately they have possibly the best center back pairing in the league. Toby Alderwierld and Jan Vertonghen will have to be on their game to keep Aguero from finding the back of the net.

Eric: Spurs 1-2 Man City

This should be a great match. Spurs managed to take all 6 points from their fixtures last season, but under Pep, City is a completely different side. Both teams have key players out, but I think City will scrape out a victory at White Hart Lane.

TJ: Spurs 1-2 Man City

This will be a tough test for City, but I think they win comfortably. The only reason I think that Spurs get on the board is due to the stellar play of Son Heung-min.

Leicester City v. Southampton

I expect this game to be tight. Leicester looked bad last week against United, but recovered in time for their Champions League game. I expect Leicester to come out firing. Southampton will have to be organized defensively to stop a side with that many offensive weapons. But Leicester will also have their hands full in stopping an in form Charlie Austin.

Matchup to Watch: Riyad Mahrez v. Ryan Bertrand

It’s no secret that Mahrez is the creative force for the Foxes. Bertrand will be tasked with keeping him in check. It’s going to be a tough battle and a necessary one for Bertrand if the Saints hope to come out with a victory.

Eric: Leicester 2-0 Southampton

It’ll be interesting to see who Ranieri puts out against Southampton. If Vardy and Mahrez wake up after a thrashing at the hands of Manchester United, the Foxes should take this one.

TJ: Leicester 2-1 Southampton

I think Leicester will have just enough to earn three points against Southampton.

Burnley v. Arsenal

I just want to say that I don’t think Burnley has much of a chance against the Gunners. Arsenal just has too much quality in too many positions. That being said, it should be a fun game to watch. Expect some quality attacking football from Arsenal.

Matchup to Watch: Arsenal attack v. Tom Heaton

I’m expecting Arsenal to dominate this game. They possess very well and will dominate the ball. I’d expect to see a lot of shots. Burnley’s keeper, Tom Heaton, will be getting plenty of work in this weekend.

Eric: Burnely 0-2 Arsenal

Arsenal return to action after beating their London rivals, Chelsea, convincingly by a score of 3-0. The Gunners should find it relatively easy keep on winning this weekend against Burnley.

TJ: Burnley 0-3 Arsenal

Arsenal will handle Burnley with ease.

Advertisements

Matchweek 5 Preview

Eric Toth & TJ Lovenduski

Match of the Week:

Chelsea (2nd) v. Liverpool (6th)

Now this is the Chelsea that we know and lo…well this is the Chelsea we know at least. It’s back to winning and dominating for the Blues, who look threatening on the ball and solid off of it. It may be a different shade of blue for N’Golo Kante, but it’s the same fine form from the Frenchman. Kante has slotted into the Chelsea side seamlessly next to Matic and is thriving under Conte. From a new signing, to what feels like one, Eden Hazard has regained his form and confidence, scoring two in his first four matches. These two key men will lineup against Liverpool this Friday and look to get back to winning ways after a poor performance against Swansea resulting in a draw last weekend.

Liverpool have looked a much better side with a full preseason under the German, Jurgen Klopp under their belt. The famous “gegenpress” style has been aiding with the additions of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum this offseason. Mane has been as threatening as ever, lively on the ball while roaming freely and interchanging with Firmino and Coutinho. The Brazilian pair of attackers, Sturridge and Mane have all gelled well, forming an attack that will scare the boots off any defense in the league, but they may meet their match this weekend as they travel to Stamford Bridge.

Matchup to Watch: N’Golo Kante vs. Liverpool’s Attack

With John Terry out injured, it looks like David Luiz will take his place next to Gary Cahill this weekend; against an attack as potent as Liverpool, that is a terrifying thought if you’re a Chelsea supporter. Luiz is a defensive liability and will need as much cover as he can get, that is where Kante comes in. A lot will be asked of Kante this weekend, he is crucial in breaking up the play and sparking a quick attack to get after the questionable Liverpool defense. The defensive midfielder will have a tall task on Friday to stop the four-pronged Liverpool attack.

Expected Lineups:

Chelsea:   

Courtois

Ivanovic – Luiz – Cahill – Azpilicueta

Matic – Kante

Willian – Oscar – Hazard

Costa

Liverpool:

Mignolet

Clyne – Klavan – Matip – Milner

Henderson – Wijnaldum

Mane – Firmino – Coutinho

Sturridge

Eric: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool

TJ: Chelsea 2-3 Liverpool

Hull (8th) v. Arsenal (7th)

Hull host Arsenal after both scored late last gameweek to earn a draw and a win respectively.

Hull’s start to the season defied all odds as they came firing out of the gate, despite their squad being riddled with injuries and a lack of inspiring business in the transfer window.

Arsenal have been plagued with fitness concerns in defense leading to a shakey start for the club. The Gunners’ new signings Mustafi and Xhaka will look to add solidity and guile to a side that has been regarded as “soft” more often than not. Arsenal will aim to get back to their best against Hull this week.

Matchup to Watch: Santi Cazorla v. Curtis Davies

Wenger has reintroduced Santi Cazorla into the side and he has been crucial in pulling the strings going forward. I expect Cazorla will be instrumental again in this upcoming match.

Curtis Davies has marshalled the Hull backline, leading the defense to only conceding 3 goals in their opening 4 fixtures.

Eric: Hull 0-2 Arsenal

TJ: Hull 0-3 Arsenal

Leicester (16th) v. Burnley (15th)

Leicester hasn’t looked like the same title winning side thus far in the Premier League, but an impressive showing in the Champions’ League should have the Foxes confident again. A home match against a newly promoted club may be just what the doctor ordered for Leicester as they look to continue their winning ways this weekend.

Burnley must have known they had their work cut out for them this season. All the clubs around them have spent freely, but they’ve stuck to their ways and haven’t splashed the cash. One of their few new signings however, Steven Defour, has impressed early on in the campaign for his new team. The Belgian will need to be at his best if Burnley hope to have any success against the reigning champions of England.

Matchup to Watch: Riyad Mahrez v Steven Ward

Mahrez has been a sensation for the past 12 months and after scoring a brace on Wednesday in the Champions’ League, the Algerian will be looking to keep the goals rolling in. Mahrez is a dynamic winger who loves to take players on and that can be difficult for fullbacks to handle. There’s no doubt that Ward will have a tough day at the office trying to keep the tricky winger at bay.

Eric: Leicester 2-0 Burnley

TJ: Leicester 2-0

Manchester City (1st) v. Bournemouth (14th)

What a transformation. Manchester City have looked like a brand new team under Pep Guardiola when compared to the end of last season. The new manager has the team firing on all cylinders as they remain unbeaten in his first four league games in charge including a derby win over heated rivals Manchester United. It was star man Kevin de Bruyne who shined for the Citizens, notching a goal and an assist to give the club a 2-1 victory. They continued their winning ways by beating German opposition Borussia Mochengladbach 4-0 in their group stage opener of this year’s Champions’ League. The club will however be without their prolific goalscorer, Sergio Aguero as he is suspended for two more matches for an elbow on Winston Reid.

Bournemouth have made some great additions to their side this offseason, but it seems they are taking some time to settle under boss, Eddie Howe. Howe will be ecstatic that his main striker Callum Wilson has finally opened his 16/17 Premier League account with a sublime backheel finish last week against West Brom to give the Cherries their first win of the season. The addition of Wilshere to the midfield will add a bit of creativity and hopefully provide Wilson with more chances to score.

Matchup to Watch: Kevin de Bruyne v Harry Arter

With too many injuries to list last season, Harry Arter was the man who stepped up and helped Bournemouth remain in the top division against all odds. Arter stopped opposition in their tracks, transitioned play and was all around the engine in midfield. His abilities will be put to the test this weekend as he looks to keep de Bruyne off the scoresheet. The Belgian has been fantastic since his arrival at the Etihad, he will surely give Arter a tough time in the middle of the park.

Eric: City 4-0 Bournemouth

TJ : City 3-1 Bournemouth

West Brom (12th) v. West Ham (17th)

I always dread writing about West Brom because it’s always the same story. Pulis ball, 10 men sitting deep, looking to play route one football and grind out a result. West Brom went out and got Nacer Chadli, a player who I think fits the bill quite well as a West Brom winger. The Belgian international is 6’2”, good technically with an eye for goal I expect good things from the ex-Spurs player, but unfortunately, I don’t see him making them any more of an attractive prospect to watch play.

West Ham have been very poor after having such a great season last year. The obvious lack of Dimitri Payet has left them faltering and looking poor. They have had some tough fixtures to begin the season, already playing Manchester City an Chelsea, but just last week they blew a 2-0 lead against Watford, with the match finishing 2-4 in Watford’s favor. Bilic will hope that by having Payet back in and settled in the starting lineup, the results will begin to come.

Matchup to Watch: Dimitri Payet v Pulis’ Center Halves

Rejoice fantasy PL players, Payet is back! Dimitri Payet has been the center of attention at West Ham since his arrival last summer and this weekend at West Brom will be no different. Pulis’ defense will watch the Frenchman closely and mark him tight, but I think Payet may have one too many tricks up his sleeves for them. The talented attacker can score a variety of goals, or assists, as he showed in his first start of the season through a rabona assist for Antonio to tuck away in last weekend’s loss to Watford.

Eric: West Brom 0-1 West Ham

TJ: West Brom 0-2 West Ham

Everton (3rd) v. Middlesbrough (9th)

Everton currently sits third in the Premier League. And new manager Ronald Koeman’s impact is clearly evident. Everton has only given up two goals so far this season. And that’s a good sign. The side already has plenty of firepower and if they’re playing good defense, they could be a dark horse contender for the top four. And while we like Middlesbrough’s squad, we just don’t think they’ll be able to win this game.

Matchup to Watch: Ross Barkley v. Himself

After being snubbed by England, Ross Barkley has struggled this season. If Everton truly want to have a chance against the top sides, they’re going to need the talented midfielder in good form. Barkley must regain confidence in himself, and become to the focal point of Everton’s attack.

Eric: Everton 0-0 Middlesbrough

TJ: Everton 2-1 Middlesbrough

Watford (10th) v. Manchester United (4th)

Manchester United will look to redeem a loss to town rivals Manchester City. The world’s most expensive player, Paul Pogba had a notably poor game and I expect that he’ll be looking to redeem himself. Sorry Watford. That being said Watford definitely has the potential for another upset with a competent strike force in Troy Deeney and Odin Ighalo. United’s center backs will have to be careful.

Matchup to Watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic v. Younes Kaboul

Kaboul plays at the center of Watford’s five man defense. That means he’ll be responsible for keeping the side organized and will likely deal with the imposing force that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Eric: Watford 1-2 Manchester United

TJ: Watford 0-2 Manchester United

Crystal Palace (11th) v. Stoke City (20th)

Crystal Palace is coming off a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough, in which new signee, Christian Benteke netted his first goal. Stoke is coming off a 4-0 loss to Tottenham. They’re also still searching for that first one. I’m expecting Stoke to improve this week.

Matchup to Watch: Wilfried Zaha v. Erik Pieters

Zaha is coming off a Man of the Match performance and the ability is there. He has the potential to wreak havoc down the flank. Pieters will have to slow down Zaha, if Stoke hopes to notch their first win of the campaign.

Eric: Crystal Palace 1-1 Stoke City

TJ: Crystal Palace 1-2 Stoke City

Southampton (18th) v. Swansea City (13th)

Southampton is another team still looking for their first win. Last week they were just outplayed by Arsenal. They need someone to step up if they hope to repeat the success of last season. Swansea on the other hand was able to earn a draw against Chelsea, in a game where they played reasonably well. We expect this to be a tight game, likely coming down to some individual brilliance to separate the two.

Matchup to Watch: Gylfi Sigurdsson v. Oriol Romeu

Sigurdsson is the key to the Swansea attack and stopping him must be a priority. That means Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu will have his hands full. But if he can stop Sigurdsson, the Saints have a good change of notching their first victory.

Eric: Southampton 2-2 Swansea

TJ: Southampton 1-0 Swansea

Tottenham (5th) v. Sunderland (19th)

Tottenham just completed an onslaught of Stoke City and we don’t see Sunderland having much a chance. Kane scored his first goal of the season and will be eager for more. Sunderland also doesn’t really have an answer for Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. These three players make up a potent offense. We just don’t see Sunderland being able to have much of a chance against this Tottenham side.

Matchup to Watch: Harry Kane v. Lamine Kone

Kane is one of the most dangerous strikers in the Premier League and Kone will need to prove his value as he attempts to shut him down.

Eric: Tottenham 3-1 Sunderland

TJ: Tottenham 3-0 Sunderland